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How Biden's "Return to Office" Appeal Could Affect Child Care

Overview: What effect could Biden's request to get workers back to work have on the child care industry?

How do parents return to work without available child care? This question was posed back in May 2020 when the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was initially passed. The truth is that, although 2 years have passed, this question still holds weight with Biden's recent appeal for workers to return back to the office.

In his State of the Union address, Biden urged for an end to remote work. His reasoning: We’ve made progress fighting COVID, to the point that Americans can get back to work and go to the office safely again, even without masks.

How could this appeal to return to work affect the child care industry? Parents already had to cope with an already-insufficient child care system decimated by the pandemic.

Increased domestic and care work as a result of the closure of schools and child care facilities also only seem to be scratching one of the many issues impacting the child care industry and working parents.

>> CONTINUE READING: Childcare, Covid-19 and Female Firm Exit

Biden plans to "cut the cost in half for most families" — especially to help millions of women get back to work after affordability issues forced them to leave the workforce mid-pandemic because they couldn’t afford child care. However, returning to the workplace has become more than money; health and safety are also at stake.

“After several false starts in [sic] calling workers back, company leaders now seem eager to press forward," the New York Times’ Emma Goldberg and Lananh Nguyen report. "But some workers, especially those with compromised immunity or unvaccinated children, feel uncomfortable with the rush back to open floor plans."


In the article "How COVID-19 is Impacting Child Care Providers," we recap the conflicting views of mid-2020 for child care facilities around the nation as child care shortages and concerns complicated the jobs of many child care facilities and parents alike.

Renee, child care provider from Appleton, WI said: We know that we are putting both our team and families in harm’s way by being open, but we have not closed. The few families we are serving are essential workers, or families who are trying to work from home whose employers do not understand that working from home with a small child is hard!

On the contrary, Michele, child care provider from Tracy, CA said: As a small private child care provider serving few essential workers, we made the difficult decision to close for the protection and safety of our children, families, and staff.

While Biden's appeal seemed logical a few months ago, recent statistics have shown an increase in Covid cases:

  • Western Australia records another 16,253 infections — the third-highest daily figure since the pandemic began. [Source]

  • In South Africa, two offshoots of the game-changing Omicron coronavirus variant lineage are once again driving a surge in COVID-19 cases there. [Source]

  • East Asia: As rapid transmission of Omicron unfolds in Taiwan, it seems inevitable that an outbreak will also occur in China.

  • United States: Cases are increasing, particularly in the Northeast and on the West Coast, due to returning pre-COVID behavior patterns.

Read more about global COVID-19 updates here.

We would like to think that the pandemic is behind us, but the recent updates make returning to work seem challenging. It ultimately begs the question: Will the COVID-19 crisis spur a fundamental change in the way child care is delivered in the U.S.?

"There are no easy solutions on the horizon for these parents or the companies that employ them," said Nancy Cleeland in an article on how child care complicates return to work back in June of 2020.

And as cases of COVID-19 rise sharply throughout the region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Carissa F. Etienne, has called on countries to take action to increase surveillance, public health measures and vaccination, and to make sure that health systems are prepared to cope with a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.


Child care centers in particular have the unique challenge of both supporting parents who might "return to office" and lacking the support to provide